Weekly health rail, with items on carpal tunnel syndrome, electronic cigarettes, tips for avoiding poisonous plants, and more
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a good example of an ailment you might think you can live with rather than pay the cost of treating it. It's surprisingly common, with up to 5 percent of the work force affected, according to the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
The National Center for Health Statistics reports that CTS results in the most number of days lost of all work-related injuries, with nearly half of all sufferers losing 31 days or more of work.
With people spending more time on their computer or online, more people are likely to be exposed to the repetitive motions that can lead to CTS.
While severe cases may require surgical treatment, studies have shown that early treatment with splinting and massage can help alleviate this painful condition.
While only your doctor can make an actual diagnosis, once you know you have carpal tunnel syndrome there are simple, low-cost steps you can take to supplement your own treatment, including:
- Massage. A report in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies indicates massage can reduce CTS symptoms.
- Adjust your posture to minimize strain. Sit up straight and don't rest your wrists on the edge of your keyboard tray while typing; try to maintain a straight wrist position.
- Stay hydrated. Proper hydration is essential to the healthy functioning of all our tissues.
- Ask your doctor to recommend appropriate exercises to keep the wrist flexible.
- Wear a wrist brace, even when you sleep. A special night brace is best.
It makes sense to save yourself long-term pain and money by addressing the problem early. Consult your doctor if you experience wrist pain that might be carpal tunnel syndrome.
In the News: FDA warns about electronic cigarettes
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announced that a laboratory analysis of electronic cigarettes has found that they contain carcinogens and toxic chemicals.
Electronic cigarettes, also called “e-cigarettes,” are battery-operated devices that generally contain cartridges filled with nicotine, flavor and other chemicals. The electronic cigarette turns nicotine, which is highly addictive, and other chemicals into a vapor that is inhaled by the user.
The FDA’s Division of Pharmaceutical Analysis analyzed the ingredients in a small sample of cartridges from two leading brands of electronic cigarettes. In one sample, the analyses detected diethylene glycol, a chemical used in antifreeze that is toxic to humans, and in several other samples, the FDA analyses detected carcinogens, including nitrosamines.
Did You Know?
For the 19th straight year, Johns Hopkins Hospital is at the top of U.S. News & World Report’s “honor roll” of best medical centers.
Health Tip: Protect yourself from poisonous plants
To avoid exposure to poisonous plants, the National Safety Council recommends:
- When gardening, wear heavy leather gloves with shirt sleeves tucked inside. Avoid touching the clothing or gloves while removing them.
- If you work outdoors, garden or regularly spend time outside, learn how to identify poisonous plants, including poison ivy, oak and sumac.
- Treat itchy skin with a paste made of baking soda and water, calamine lotion or topical hydrocortisone cream, and an oral antihistamine, such as Benadryl.
- If your eyes are affected, call your doctor immediately.
- Wash contaminated clothing, shoes and pets.
- Never burn poisonous plants. Smoke can spread the poison.
-- The National Safety Council
Number to Know: 16
Percentage of public health workers who said they would not report to work during a pandemic flu emergency regardless of its severity, according to a survey of nearly 2,000 workers. -- Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Children’s Health: Stay safe in the bath
You might think scalding or near-drownings would be the most common threat in the bathroom, but a new study found slips and falls are far more common, sending more than 43,000 kids a year to the emergency department.
Researchers said adult supervision isn’t enough to prevent falls, and parents need to use a slip-resistant mat inside and outside the bath or shower.
Also recommended are support bars that children can hold onto while getting in and out of the tub, and eliminating any sharp edges near the bath or shower.
-- American Academy of Pediatrics
Senior Health: New benefit to blood-pressure drugs
A particular class of medication used to treat high blood pressure could protect older adults against memory decline and other impairments in cognitive function, according to a new study.
Research suggests that some of the drugs classified as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, specifically those that affect the brain by crossing the blood-brain barrier, may reduce inflammation that could contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers already knew that keeping blood pressure down is important, but this study shows that ACE inhibitors that cross the blood-brain barrier might be a better treatment option.
-- Wake Forest University School of Medicine
GateHouse News Service